Washington Sports Betting Laws
According to Washington’s Criminal Code, it is technically a “crime” to wager on sports via the Internet. That’s because RCW 9.46.240 makes it clear that it is disallowed to knowingly transmit or receive gambling information over the Internet or “any similar means.” If the authorities can prove that unlawful gambling activity has taken place, violators can be liable for a fine of not more than $10,000, a prison stint of up to five years, or even both at the same time. Needless to say, this law is focused in practice entirely on those who operate sportsbooks, not those individuals who place bets with said books.
Again, Washington is not pulling any punches when it comes to its anti-gambling legal language, but it is important to understand that all of these laws and others are aimed at keeping the criminal element out of gambling, which is also the purview of the federal laws that supersede Washington’s state prohibitions (i.e. the Wire Act and the UIGEA). We will discuss the particulars of those federal laws in the next section. As a constant reminder, however, just remember that precedent is what matters when assessing laws, and there is no precedent for any WA resident to get into legal hot water over placing a few sports bets over the Internet at offshore sites. Additionally, please remember that these offshore books operate wholly outside the purview of both WA and US law, and they are not the focus of any bookmaking investigations or criminal complaints in the Evergreen State.
Federal Laws That Impact Washington Sports Betting
Three main federal laws impact sports betting – or the lack thereof – in Washington. The Evergreen State, like every state in the country other than Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon, was until very recently unable to pass laws regulating a sports betting industry thanks to the 1992 passage of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). PASPA was overturned by the US Supreme Court as abject unconstitutional nonsense in May 2018.
An earlier law, the Federal Wire Act of 1961, is actually still in effect, and it makes it unlawful to transmit or receive betting information across state lines in an attempt to curtail the involvement of organized crime in sports gambling. The Wire Act is why WA bettors can’t simply get online or pick up a phone and place a sports wager with a bookie in Las Vegas or Atlantic City or Biloxi, for example.
Finally, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) goes after the financial institutions that process credit card transactions knowingly related to gambling, a move that all but destroyed the domestic market for online gambling sites in the early 2000s. However, sites – including those offering sports betting action – quickly learned to offer alternate funding options, effectively circumventing the UIGEA. Remember: these laws only focus on industrial or commercial elements engaged in bookmaking or the funding thereof on US soil. These laws do not go after individual WA bettors, and they have no control or power over offshore sports betting sites.
Is Online Sports Betting Legal In Washington?
Any kind of gambling done over the Internet – online sports betting included – is barred according to Washington state law, and there are few states that are as out-and-out against the practice as is Washington. That being said, there are still plenty of legal Washington sports betting sites that will accept Evergreen State residents as players and with which you can safely wager.
The fact is, the websites we recommend you use, namely Bovada, BetOnline, SportsBetting, MyBookie, BetDSI, BookMaker, and 5Dimes, are all based out of foreign countries and therefore US law – to say nothing of Washington law - cannot apply to them in the first place. Secondly, it’s hardly possible for Washington authorities to go after every single person in the state who bets on sports, especially if they use licensed and regulated sports betting sites like those we recommend. There is no precedent for any WA customer of any of these top sportsbooks ever getting into any trouble whatsoever for betting real money on their favorite players and teams.
Mobile Sports Betting Apps For Washington Bettors
There are no native sports betting apps for iPhones or Androids (or any other platforms) available to WA bettors. When and if sports wagering is legalized in the state, you will likely find official apps promoting and hosting the activity. However, for now, offshore sportsbooks use a concept called the “web app” as an effective workaround. A web app works much the same as a native app, but since it’s browser-based, the sportsbooks don’t have to submit their programs to Apple’s and Google’s stores for approval. For you, the upshot is that there are no downloads to worry about, there are no updates to run before placing a wager, and there are no viruses or other security gaps to be concerned with. Best of all, each top offshore book has its own mobile-optimized interface, allowing you to handle account deposits, select bonuses, browse odds boards, place wagers, and request payouts all from the palm of your hand.
What Is The Legal Age To Gambling In Washington?
Washington has an interesting approach to minimum legal gambling ages in that the state’s tribal casinos allow patrons as young as 18 to bet, while other betting establishments can require customers to be 21 before gambling. Whatever the age stipulated by the casino or betting venue of your choice, once you are cleared to place bets you will find no shortage of options to do so. Washington’s casinos, poker rooms, and slots parlors offer a combined total of more than 33,000 slot machines and nearly 1,200 table games ranging from poker to blackjack to baccarat and everything in between. Sports betting, however, is off the table at on-site venues, and there is no age governing the pastime. That means that you can go with your offshore book’s advertised age limit, which is going to be 18 years old at all the top sites. As long as you’re using an offshore sports betting website, you can join and bet real money at 18 and up!
What Does It Mean For WA Sports Bettors To “Shop Lines” At Offshore Books?
Whenever you hear someone talk about shopping lines, pay attention, as this is the best possible advice a new bettor can get. No matter what other winning strategies you employ, shopping lines is a no-brainer for the top of your list. Best of all, this strategy is really only useful for online books, so you’re able to shop lines at offshore books over the Internet with ease. Since online betting sites are competing with each other, they will offer different lines on the same matchups. Sometimes, a bet might only be slightly different between sites, while others can be astronomically so. One site might have the Huskies at -235 to win, while another might have them at -185. If you’re only a member at one site and the -235 line is all you have, you’re leaving a ton of money on the table!
Legal Washington Betting Sites
There are several legal Washington betting sites to choose from, all of which offer safe, encrypted, secure, efficient sports wagering services. The best sportsbooks in WA are Bovada, SportsBetting, MyBookie, BetOnline, 5Dimes, BetDSI, and BookMaker. There are hundreds of WA betting sites on the Internet, but if you want to be assured the best possible experience and receive guaranteed payouts, you’ll want to stick to these options. Two of our personal favorite sportsbooks are reviewed below:
Bovada Sports - $250 In Free Plays For New WA Bettors
Bovada is the most famous, most popular, and best-reputed book on the planet. It’s been the #1 betting site in the US for years, and it shows no signs of slowing down. At Bovada, you’ll get the best desktop and mobile interfaces in the business, which makes browsing their boards fast and efficient. Further, you’ll get thousands of wagers per day across dozens of US and international sports. New WA residents who join today can even get a Sports Welcome Bonus of up to $250, which comes with the industry’s easiest-to-meet rollover requirements of just 5X!
MyBookie Sportsbook - Most Deposit & Withdrawal Options Of Any NC Sportsbook
MyBookie is relatively new when it comes to serving Washington sports betting enthusiasts, but the site is anything but inexperienced. They offer odds and lines on all the major US sports, including the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, NCAA, UFC, eSports, and more. MyBookie focuses almost exclusively on American leagues, allowing them to double down in offering valuable alternate lines for their tens of thousands of Washington players. If you want to become one yourself, joining is fast and free, and promo code “MYB50” will get you up to $1000 in free plays with your first deposit. Make MyBookie your bookie today!
- LEGAL SPORTSBOOKS
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Washington Sports Betting FAQs
Are online sportsbooks safe to use if you live in Washington?
Yes, they are. While nominally barred by law, the state does not prosecute individuals for wagering on sports over the Internet at legal betting sites. The technology to do so reliably is virtually nonexistent, the manpower needed to police everyone’s online activities far outweighs the manpower available, and, frankly, the state has better things to do. An estimated 800,000-plus bettors live and gamble each year in the Evergreen State, and not a single one has ever faced any sort of legal trouble from doing so over the Internet at offshore sites. It’s safe and secure in both practice and theory, and you can even use a cryptocurrency for further anonymity if you’re at all concerned for your safety.
Has any been arrested for sports betting in Washington?
Nobody has ever been arrested for sports betting in Washington at an offshore sportsbook, but that doesn’t mean the law is looking the other way when it comes to those running such outfits on the operator side if they’re located within the state’s borders. Case in point: Washington is the only state in the Union to have actually arrested, charged, prosecuted, and convicted someone for violating the state’s prohibition on daily fantasy sports as a “game of chance” for a monetary reward. In that case, the conviction was made not against an individual player, of course, but against the person operating the unregulated DFS website.
What should I do if my bank didn't process my credit or debit card deposit?
It’s completely normal – although somewhat infrequent – for even a legal Washington sports betting site to be unable to process your credit or debit card deposit. This is due to the UIGEA law mentioned above, which goes after financial institutions that knowingly process gambling-related transactions over the Internet. The reality here is that you shouldn’t worry about being in violation of the UIGEA just because the betting website you’re using won’t accept your deposit. On the off chance this happens, relax – you aren’t in trouble. Just wait a few minutes and try again, or try a different card or other supported deposit method.
What is the best way to fund your sports betting account?
If you don’t have a credit or debit card or you aren’t a user of a website that will take whatever card you do have, there are still some foolproof methods of funding your sports betting account. The most reliable options are generally going to be person-to-person (P2P) transfers like Western Union, a good old-fashioned check-in-the-mail, or a tried-and-true bank wire transfer. But all of these can take some time to go through, often clearing in 5 days or more.
When time is of the essence like it is in the world of sports betting, having to wait a little longer to place your wagers might not be the best choice for you. That’s why Bitcoin might just be the best of all worlds. The cryptocurrency isn’t tied to any real-world legal tender, and it exists completely outside the jurisdiction of any financial institutions. Best of all, transfers are as instantaneous as they are completely reliable. Check with your betting website for the particular rules and procedures you’ll need to follow before making any final decision as to what method you’ll use to fund your account.
Do Online Sports Betting Sites Have Odds On Football?
Yes, but not just football! Washington’s pro sports teams have huge bettor bases and millions of fans state- and nationwide. The Evergreen State also has its fair share of successful collegiate sports programs as well, with the Gonzaga Bulldogs men’s basketball team being consistently ranked as one of the top teams in the Pac-12 and almost a guaranteed March Madness lock. The Washington State Huskies won the Pac-12 title recently, while the school’s women’s basketball program has made it deep into March Madness the past several years. You can bet on all these teams and more at the best online sports betting sites.
What is live betting?
Live betting, otherwise known as “in-play” betting, is a relatively new wagering option that most of the premier offshore web-based sportsbooks offer to users. Essentially, live betting is a technology-driven system that allows players to bet throughout an ongoing sporting event. As opposed to traditional online betting methods, where odds are fixed by the bookmaker prior to the start of a particular event, clicking the live betting option will enable users to take advantage of constantly changing odds as on-field conditions change.
This creates a much more exciting, involved style of gambling that modern bettors are taking to in droves, and that’s only bolstered by the ready availability of free betting web apps and ubiquitous streaming Internet services from the best legal Washington sports betting sites.
Do legal Washington online sportsbooks have live betting?
If you’ve been keeping up with all the new tech developments in the mobile and Internet-based sports betting industry, you’ll no doubt be aware that live betting is an option at all the top websites like Bovada and BetOnline. In fact, those two offshore sports betting sites are the best on the market right now when it comes to live betting.
Live betting gives players who have a knack for reading the ebb and flow of action in a game the ability to take advantage of a changing trendline in the odds that could, with some luck, result in a huge payout. Legal Washington sports betting sites like those listed here also offer prop bets throughout a contest, which make this style of betting even more like a skill-based game. Live betting really rewards savvy players who know their stuff!
Can I have more than one online sportsbook account?
Yes, and it’s definitely recommended that you do that very thing! Having more than one online sportsbook account it not only possible, legal and easy, it’s practically speaking the #1 best way to ensure any reasonable chance of long-term profitability for your sports betting endeavors. Unless you’re just an occasional bettor who wants to cash in on a particularly prominent sporting event, it behooves the smart gambler to keep multiple sportsbook accounts going. Different books will always have slightly different payouts on the same wagers, and sometimes, the differences can be dramatic. Players that don’t shop lines across multiple books are leaving thousands of dollars on the table each year, not to mention the multiple different bonuses they’ll pass up by limiting their participation to a single sportsbook.
Betting On Horse Racing In Washington
Washington doesn’t have as well-developed a horse racing segment as some other states, with only two tracks – Auburn’s Emerald Downs and Kennewick’s Sun Downs Race Track – calling the Evergreen State home. Live racing is only available at those two tracks, while off-track betting (OTB) facilities are sprinkled throughout 12 authorized gambling facilities in the state. The Washington Horse Racing Commission oversees the Evergreen State’s race tracks and horse racing betting generally, and the Commission’s website actually lists these locations for the reference of those interested in pari-mutuel betting on the ponies. You can also wager on horse races at WA tracks by using the racebooks available at the various offshore betting websites mentioned here.
The Status Of Daily Fantasy Sports In Washington
As permissive as some of Washington’s other social gaming laws may be, one area the Evergreen State cracks down hard on is daily fantasy sports (DFS). In fact, Washington is the only state in the nation (even among states that nominally prohibit DFS) that has actually charged and prosecuted a fantasy sports operator for running their business unlawfully in the state. In a 2011 statement, the Washington State Gambling Commission said in no uncertain terms that any DFS company operating in the state or any company providing DFS services to WA residents would be criminally charged according to state law.
The statement came after the 2011 conviction of David Watkins, who owned and operated a NASCAR fantasy sports company called Fantasy Thunder. The case against Watkins was successful because state law specifically bans most games of chance, and even games of skill, that are played for a monetary reward. Bills to legalize DFS in Washington was put forward during the 2015 and 2018 legislative sessions, but these weren’t passed, despite interest from the Gaming Commission.